Press Releases

Sierra Leone Narcotics Trafficker Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To 20 Years In Prison On International Cocaine Conspiracy Charges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday May 11, 2012

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that GILBRILLA KAMARA was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 20 years in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the United States.  KAMARA pled guilty on October 3, 2011, before United States District Judge William H. Pauley III in Manhattan federal court.  KAMARA’s prosecution was part of the historic, joint undercover operation, “Operation Relentless,” between the United States and the Government of Liberia. 

According to the Indictment to which KAMARA pled guilty, documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court, and court proceedings:

From approximately 2007 until his arrest, KAMARA, a native of Sierra Leone, actively sought to recruit members of South American drug trafficking organizations in order to establish operations in countries including Liberia, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria.  KAMARA also made efforts to corrupt and influence West African government officials in order to establish safe havens for the receipt, storage, and shipment of thousands of kilograms of cocaine. Specifically, KAMARA attempted to bribe senior officials in the Liberian Government in order to protect large cocaine shipments, and to use Liberia as a trans-shipment point for further cocaine distribution in Africa and Europe.  In furtherance of these efforts, KAMARA met with two individuals he knew to be Liberian government officials – the Director and Deputy Director of the Republic of Liberia National Security Agency (“RLNSA”), both of whom were working jointly with the DEA in an undercover capacity, unbeknownst to KAMARA.

In a number of the meetings with these Liberian officials, KAMARA also met with a confidential source working with an undercover DEA agent (the “CS”), who purported to be a business partner and confidante of the RLNSA Director.  KAMARA frequently corresponded and held meetings with the CS and the cooperating Liberian officials in order to negotiate prices and coordinate the transport of cocaine shipments from South America through Liberia.  These shipments included a shipment of 4,000 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia.  In the meetings, KAMARA understood that the CS was to be paid in the form of cocaine, and would send a portion of that payment to Ghana, where it would be imported into New York aboard commercial flights.


In addition to his prison term, KAMARA, 47, was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Special Operations Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), the DEA Lagos Country Office, the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs, and the U.S. State Department.  He also thanked the U.S. Embassy in Liberia and the Republic of Liberia and its National Security Agency for their efforts.

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher LaVigne, Randall Jackson, Michael M. Rosensaft, and Jenna M. Dabbs are in charge of the prosecution.

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